The Photographer Who Captured the Birth of Hip-Hop


It’s virtually a fluke that his pictures survived. In the mid-eighties, Conzo struggled with illicit drug use, and offered off his cameras. His mom saved his negatives protected. After he was arrested for shoplifting, in 1991, he was ordered to enter therapy, the place he overcame his substance-use dysfunction. He skilled as an emergency medical technician and started working for the fireplace division. A decade later, he was amongst the first responders at the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11. He arrived simply after the second aircraft hit, and needed to dig his manner out of the rubble. (Like many first responders, Conzo was identified years later with most cancers, which is now in remission.)

This previous winter, Conzo, retired from the F.D.N.Y., ended up on the entrance web page of the Daily News, and this time he was the story relatively than the storyteller. He was one of dozens of tenants in the Bronx who had been issued eviction notices after a private-equity firm acquired the buildings that they lived in. Channelling the spirit of his grandmother, Conzo organized the different tenants, and their new landlord backed down.

Buoyed by the rediscovery of his hip-hop work in the mid-two-thousands, Conzo started taking footage once more. Now fifty-eight years outdated, he was inducted to the Bronx Walk of Fame in May, and two weeks later he was readily available for the groundbreaking of the Universal Hip Hop Museum, of which he’s a founding member. The museum preserves a historical past that may have been partially misplaced, had he not thought to {photograph} his mates again in highschool. It’s set to open in 2023, in the South Bronx, just some blocks away from a playground that was just lately christened after his grandmother Evelina.



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